Sang Hyeok Woo wasn’t on the original performance list for Thursday’s boys high jump at Sun Angel Track Classic.
The 15-year-old, here from Seoul on a two-week spring break training at former Olympic thrower John Godina’s World Athletics Center in Phoenix, was a late entry.
By the time he was about to clear 7 feet, 1 inch on his last try at Arizona State’s Sun Angel Stadium, Woo was a celebrity among the local high school athletes, who gathered around the high jump section and clapped in unison as he let out a ‘Whoop!’ and ran toward the bar.
Woo had broken the Sun Angel Track high school meet record at 6-11, before clearing 7-1. He missed on three tries at 7-2.
Neither Chandler’s Michael Poiriee-Shelton nor Phoenix North Canyon’s Bryant O’Georgia knew who they were up against when the tall, smiling kid in short shorts showed up with Korean writing on his jersey. Both cleared 6-6. Poiriee-Shelton was awarded second place, based on fewer attempts.
Nick Sheuerman, who works with Woo at World Athletics Center, said there was nothing against overseas athletes competing in the Sun Angel.
“It was good exposure,” Sheuerman said.
Afterwards, athletes lined up to pose for pictures with Woo, who spoke no English but connected with his smile.
“Based on the impressions we’ve seen in a couple weeks of training, he has all of the mental, physical and emotional capabilities to be at the world-class level,” Sheuerman added.
Phoenix Mountain Pointe sophomore Paul Lucas, who was part of last year’s state-record 4×100-meter relay team, had the fastest 400-meter run in Thursday’s preliminaries at 48.75 seconds. Lucas said it was his first 400 race of the season.
Earlier, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor ran the fastest 4×100 boys preliminary relay with a school-record 41.7, but it was disqualified because one of the runners had a different color under garment. Because of that, Mountain Pointe had the fastest championship qualifying time at 42.46.
The finals are Saturday night in between premier races for the collegiate and unattached runners as part of the Sun Angel Classic.
Scottsdale Chaparral freshman Brandon Jamison set a personal record , capturing the boys 300 intermediate hurdles at 38.89.
Gilbert Highland senior Ashley Hatch won the girls 300 hurdles, setting a meet record at 44.41.
Mountain Pointe’s Rees Young won the girls long jump at 17-3.
Tempe Corona del Sol’s Aaron Simons won the boys discus with a toss of 170-7.
In the girls shot put, Chandler’s Bianca Finn edged out All-Arizona basketball player Chanel Osahor of Phoenix St. Mary’s with a heave of 40-8. Osahor had 40-3.
Jessica Young of Mesa Desert Ridge won the girls high jump at 5-3.